As Thanksgiving approaches, I am overwhelmed with memories of my dear friend, Elizabeth.
Covid hit me hard in November of 2021. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I still felt terribly miserable. My husband was getting back to normal after having also been infected, but I could barely function. I spent my days in bed. Sadly, our holiday trip to Vermont had been cancelled. My daughter was especially disappointed and asked if we could still have a special dinner at home. We had a turkey, but I couldn’t imagine us being able to put together a full holiday meal.
And then Elizabeth texted me. Does your family have Thanksgiving dinner?
I told her we had a turkey and nothing more. Perfect. She and her family wanted to provide us with everything but the turkey. She said it would bless them to do so. I was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness and how God was using her to fulfill my daughter’s expressed wish.
On Thanksgiving Day, Elizabeth and her husband made a front door drop-off. I was blown away by their provision. Huge aluminum pans overflowed our kitchen counters as we unpacked the food. Mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, lentils, stuffing, salad, rice, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, and more.
What blew me away was that these were not just little Tupperware dishes of extra food they could spare. These were large pans of food that could feed at least two more families of four. This was extravagant love.
More than enough. Abundance.
Three months later, Elizabeth passed away, but her love lives on in my heart and memories. She valued me. She cared deeply. Not just at Thanksgiving, though she outdid herself then for sure. She was always encouraging me and expressing gratitude for my friendship. I remember her saying on multiple occasions, “I want to bless you.” And then she did. This was the kind of person she was.
This holiday season, my heart remembers Elizabeth vividly, and I am filled with both gratitude and grief. A friend that encourages, sacrificially gives, and expresses gratitude is a precious gift.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
Extravagant, sacrificial love is what Jesus commands. “And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3b) It’s a paradox that the Lord’s commands are not burdensome, and yet we are called to sacrifice in our love for one another. But this is because God’s ways are for our good, and we will eventually experience the blessing of obedience even if it’s hard at times.
Last Thanksgiving, Elizabeth willingly and gratefully sacrificed time, money, and energy to bless my family with abundance. This is the heart of gratitude and thanksgiving: humble, generous, joyful.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were more Elizabeths in the world, not just giving what is easy to give but rather giving sacrificially and abundantly?
During the Thanksgiving season, we often get caught up in our own families, traditions, plans, and preparations. There is nothing wrong with those things, but this year, let’s also make it a priority to love extravagantly. Pray and consider what God might have you give to someone. Decide what you’re comfortable giving, and then give more than that. Outdo yourself, so that someone else will experience the deep, sacrificial love of the Lord.
Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life for us. You gave us Your absolute best, Your very life. Now help us to love and give like You. Show us specifically who we can love sacrificially and how. We want to live with thanksgiving that overflows blessings into others lives. In Your Name, Amen!
Kimberly Vaughn is a wife and a homeschool mom of two. She has a passion to encourage and build up other women, especially those who are hurting and broken. She has been involved in various aspects of ministry since graduating from Bible college over 15 years ago. It is her desire for women to experience hope and transformation in Jesus through the words she writes and speaks.